Edward Lear, Jerusalem (1858)

Edward Lear, Jerusalem.
Inscribed and dated ‘Jerusalem/april.28.1858./(too cold to finish it)’ (lower right) and  variously annotated in pencil pen and brown ink, pencil and sepia wash. 20.6 x 31.1cm (8 1/8 x 12 1/4in).

Private collection, UK.

Edward Lear travelled to Jerusalem from Corfu, arriving on 27 March 1858. His diary records his travels outside the walls of the city, ‘We crossed the Kidron and went up the Mount of Olives – every step bringing fresh beauty to the city uprising behind’.1
Lear went on to camp for a week on the Mount of Olives making studies and preparatory drawings, having received a commission from Lady Waldegrave. He worked these up into many successful compositions such as View of Jerusalem 1858 (Tate Britain), and The Valley of Jehosaphat with Jerusalem beyond (sold in these rooms, 21 January 2015, lot 33).
Lear was particularly interested in the light at dawn and evening, the simple colour scheme of gold, green and purple working to excellent effect. He wrote, ‘just at sunrise the view of the city is most lovely…all gold and white beyond the dark fig and olive trees’.2

1 Vivien Noakes, Edward Lear 1812-1888, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1985, p.149.
2 Vivien Noakes, The Painter Edward Lear, David & Charles, London, 1991, p.72.


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